“He pulls a bit.”
“Yes—but isn’t he perfectly sweet?”
“He is rather decent.”
Ah! when she came, he would drive her; they would go off alone in the T-cart, and he would show her all the country round.
He was re-awakened by the words:
“Oh! I know he’s going to shy!” At once there was a swerve. The roan was cantering.
They had passed a pig.
“Doesn’t he look lovely now? Ought I to have whipped him when he shied?”
“Because horses are horses, and pigs are pigs; it’s natural for horses to shy at them.”
He looked up at her then, sidelong. The curve of her cheek and chin looked very soft, and rather jolly.
“I didn’t know you, you know!” he said. “You’ve grown up so awfully.”
“I knew you at once. Your voice is still furry.”
There was another silence, till she said:
“He does pull, rather—doesn’t he, going home?”
“Shall I drive?”
He stood up and took the reins, and she slipped past under them in front of him; her hair smelt exactly like hay, as she was softly bumped against him.
She kept regarding him steadily with very blue eyes, now that she was relieved of driving.
“Cicely was afraid you weren’t coming,” she said suddenly. “What sort of people are those old Stormers?”
He felt himself grow very red, choked something down, and answered:
“It’s only he that’s old. She’s not more than about thirty-five.”
“That is old.”
He restrained the words: “Of course it’s old to a kid like you!” And, instead, he looked at her. Was she exactly a kid? She seemed quite tall (for a girl) and not very thin, and there was something frank and soft about her face, and as if she wanted you to be nice to her.
“Is she very pretty?”
This time he did not go red, such was the disturbance that question made in him. If he said: “Yes,” it was like letting the world know his adoration; but to say anything less would be horrible, disloyal. So he did say: “Yes,” listening hard to the tone of his own voice.
“I thought she was. Do you like her very much?” Again he struggled with that thing in his throat, and again said: “Yes.”
He wanted to hate this girl, yet somehow could not—she looked so soft and confiding. She was staring before her now, her lips still just parted, so evidently that had not been because of Bolero’s pulling; they were pretty all the same, and so was her short, straight little nose, and her chin, and she was awfully fair. His thoughts flew back to that other face—so splendid, so full of life. Suddenly he found himself unable to picture it—for the first time since he had started on his journey it would not come before him.